Some of the most unique yet threatened species in the world can be found in Philippine forests. While they provide indispensable ecological services to millions of Filipinos, forests continue to disappear. Communities must be engaged to take more of an active role in conserving our shared forest resources.
The Forest Governance Project or FOGOP aims to increase local community participation in forest management and land use plans. It involves communities and forest areas in three (3) key locations: Mt. Irid-Angelo in Luzon, Mt. Siburan in Mindoro, and Mt. Hilong-hilong in Mindanao.
The project involves the empowerment and enhancement of People’s Organizations, Indigenous People’s groups, and other communities who are considered “non-state” actors, or stakeholders of forests outside of the state or government.
About the FOGOP sites
Mt. Irid-Angelo are two mountains on the southern range of the Sierra Madre that holds 135,257 hectares of forest land. It is home to Dumagat-Remontado tribe and has 17 watersheds, four of which provide water for domestic and industrial use to its neighboring municipalities. The watersheds provide water supply to Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Surveys in the mountains found they are home to 88 bird species and 17 mammal species, including the majestic Philippine Eagle. Forty percent (40%) percent of which are endemic. Unfortunately, Mt. Irid-Angelo continues to be threatened by illegal logging, mining, slash & burn farming, road constructions, proposed development of dams, unregulated collection of non-timber products and wildlife hunting.
This tropical lowland evergreen forest is one of the nine Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Mindoro Island and is home to the Critically Endangered Mindoro Bleeding-heart pigeon. The Indigenous Peoples of Mangyan are living within and around the KBA. The Philippine government declared Mt. Siburan as one of the country’s priority conservation areas having the most number of endemic species. It’s forests are home to 154 bird species and 23 species of reptiles and amphibians (from 2002 data). Despite this, Mt. Siburan remains as one of the most severely deforested lands in the country. It is also threatened with invasive species, hunting, harvesting of timber and non-timber products, and the lack of strong local policies.
Most of the threatened species in Mindanao and Eastern Visayas can be found in Mt. Hilong-Hilong, where Mamanwa and Manobo Indigenous Peoples also reside. It is home to the Philippine Eagle as well as other endemic birds such as the Mindanao Scops Owl, Silvery Kingfisher, and Mindanao Racquet-tail. It is also home to threatened mammals such as the Cloud Rat and the Golden-crowned Flying Fox. Threats to the forests and species of Mt. Hilong-Hilong include rapid population growth in the uplands, illegal logging, wildlife hunting, irresponsible mining, and road and agricultural expansion.
Goals and scope of FOGOP
We are now working with various communities in these three sites to involve more people in forest governance, safeguards, and land-use. Communities are now building networks through cross-border cooperation and information sharing, while developing advocacy and representation of non-state actors in national forest policy.
The project spans 4 countries, and is formally named “Strengthening Non-State Actor Involvement in Forest Governance in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.”
FOGOP Field Updates
On-going work for forest governance via the Forest Governance Project or FOGOP is supported by the European Union, in partnership with BirdLife International.